Wrong’s advice to white men about writing on Africa

Michela Wrong: A bumptious guide to book writing:

. . . What gives a spoilt bourgeois, who didn’t even grow up there, the right to interpret the continent for the world?

The only answer can be: I have devoted years on the continent to listening and learning; I have done my homework as conscientiously as I know how; and it’s just possible, because I have spent so much time learning to write accessibly about foreign cultures, that I may be able to serve as a bridge between two cultural viewpoints.

My caller saw no need for any of this. With the chutzpah of the privileged young male, he believed he could bypass it all and still produce something for which the public would be duly grateful. In fact, there’s only one way of writing a book in these circumstances: you deliver a manuscript that is all about you, with Africa as a picturesque backdrop to your macho derring-do.

HT: Chris Blattman, Why women make better foreign correspondents

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